All Photos: Coco Chanel’s La Pausa villa in Vogue Magazine. Illustrated by Christian Bérard, Vogue, March 1930.
Coco Chanel purchased a five-acre plot of land in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in 1928. For the rest of the decade, she oversaw the building and design of the home. The 1.8 million francs she paid was a whopping sum at the time, but to Chanel, it was a small price to pay for serenity. The seven-bedroom estate was her sanctuary and the place she retreated to with her lover, the second Duke of Westminster. Just as she was precise with her signature clothing, Chanel deeply involved herself in the construction and the interiors of La Pausa, traveling from it to Paris and back to check on the progress and meet with her architect, Robert Streitz. With fragrant lavender and ripe olive trees in the surrounding gardens, this holiday villa on the French Riviera became Chanel’s respite from the exciting but tiresome world of women’s fashion.
Last year, the house of Chanel announced that it had purchased the estate and is planning to restore it to Mademoiselle’s stunning grandeur. What it will be become, whether a hotel, museum, or private space for the label, is still a mystery. But Coco Chanel can rest easy knowing that it’s back in the care of the business she herself built, with the chance to have a new life and a lasting place in the history of the company. It appears the designer’s investment in La Pausa, her labor of love, is still paying off.
Here, nine things to know about Mademoiselle Chanel’s holiday home on the French Riviera:
1. The name La Pausa means “the pause” and is meant to pay tribute to Mary Magdalene who, legend has it, rested near the site of the home under olive trees while she was traveling from Jerusalem after Jesus was crucified.
2. Aubazine, the 12th-century orphanage in Corrèze, France, where Chanel spent some of her childhood, inspired much of the design of La Pausa.
3. Throughout the house, the windows are all clustered together in groups of five, in celebration of the iconic Chanel No.5 perfume.
4. Chanel chose a white and beige color palette for most of the interiors and even had a beige piano inside La Pausa. Other parts were highlighted with pinks and grays, some of which influenced a few of her collections in the years she had the property.
5. She ordered more than 20,000 custom tiles for the roof.
6. Each bathroom in La Pausa was equipped with a servants’ entrance, so it was easier and quicker for them to slip in and out while drawing a bath or retrieving clothes for after the wash.
7. Much of the floors and paneling was made with 18th-century English oak while the furniture selection was influenced by the Duke of Westminster’s tastes.
8. The guests Mademoiselle and the Duke entertained at La Pausa included Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Jean Cocteau, Igor Stravinsky, and Luchino Visconti.
9. Chanel sold the estate shortly after the Duke of Westminster’s death in 1953. It was purchased by publisher Emery Reves and his wife, Wendy, and became a gathering place for Hollywood royalty like Clark Gable and Greta Garbo.